Q: How does the flow of Chi become imbalanced or blocked?
A: Any noxious stimuli, internal or external, such as overexertion, poor diet, processed foods, contagious diseases, trauma, weather changes (excessive dampness, wind, cold, heat), and even emotional stress, anxiety, over-thinking/worrying all affect the smooth flow of Chi through the meridians, which are channels that course the entire body (head, torso, extremities, organ systems). When chi is blocked, pain and/or disease sets in. Good health depends on the balanced distribution of chi throughout the entire body and organ systems.
Q: Are the needles sterile and safe?
A: Yes. NYS law requires acupuncture needles to be sterile. They are used only once and disposed.
Q: Does Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine work?
A: A: Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has successfully treated multiple health conditions for over 3000 years. Billions of people worldwide use them today. The World Health Organization recognizes acupuncture to be effective for at least 200 illnesses. Research confirms successful treatments, such as the following:
- Addictions, Smoking, Food, Substance Abuse
- Allergies & Asthma
- Blood Pressure
- Tendonitis, Bursitis
- Carpel Tunnel Syndrome
- Circulation Problems
- Cold Hands/Feet
- Colitis & IBS
- Crohn’s Disease
- Depression & Anxiety
- Digestive Problems
- Disc Herniation or Disc Disorders
- Dizziness (Vertigo)
- Fatigue, Chronic
- Sexual Dysfunction
- Gynecological Disorders
- Migraine and Tension Headaches
- Immune System Problems
- Injuries & Post-operative Pain/Swelling
- Liver Abnormalities
- Menopausal symptoms (hot flashes, night sweats)
- Pain anywhere in the body, Neck, Back, Extremities
- Prostate Problems
- Sinus Problems
- Thyroid Conditions
- Tingling and Numbness
- Tinnitus (ear ringing)
- Urinary Problems, Incontinence, frequent urination
Acupuncture is wonderful for restoring strengthening the immune system and is helpful in treating auto-immune disorders, such as Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Thyoid disorders.
Q: Is acupuncture painful?
A: Some are fearful that the treatments will be painful like injections, which is absolutely not the case. Acupuncture needles are very fine and thin like a human hair. When skillfully inserted, the very fine needles produce little or no sensation at all. Patients are pleasantly surprised at how relaxed they are during and after their treatments. Acupuncture also reduces stress and anxiety by promoting improved breathing and relaxation, which aids in the healing process.
Q: What does the examination and consultation involve?
A: The initial consultation and exam include a thorough history and examination of the tongue, pulses (reflect the health of all the vital organs), abdominal and meridian palpation in order to assess the individual’s physical strengths and weaknesses (known as excesses and deficiencies in TCM) to establish and formulate a successful treatment plan.
Q: How long is the visit?
A: Initial visits are typically 1.5 hour and follow-up treatments are 1 hour.
Q: How do I choose an acupuncturist?
A: It is best to find an acupuncturist who is licensed and board certified in the state you are in; look for the initials L.Ac., or Dipl. L.Ac., which indicate extensive training of at least 3500 hours. Your acupuncturist should be licensed and board certified. It is important to find an acupuncturist you are comfortable with and can have a good rapport with in order to enhance your healing process.
Note that most MDs who practice acupuncture are typically 'certified,' meaning they take a very short course of approximately 300 hours and are not board certified in acupuncture or licensed, L.Ac.
Making the correct TCM diagnosis is essential in treating any condition resulting in the best possible therapeutic outcome.
Q: Is acupuncture safe?
A: Yes. Acupuncture has no unpleasant side effects and does not interfere with any medical treatment you may already be receiving. Occasionally patients may get a small local bruise or feel light-headed for a few moments. The acupuncture itself is as gentle or strong as the patient needs. Highly sensitive or deficient patients only require a very light touch in order to get results. When anxious or fearful patients feel their first acupuncture needle, they usually respond: 'Oh, is that it?' There should be no discomfort to the patient, except occasional sensations often described as heaviness, pulling, warm or achy. There is typically an overall sense of deep relaxation.
The practitioner is well aware of the concern over infectious diseases, and takes every measure to insure cleanliness as all health care professional do. Needles are sterile, disposable and only used one time.
Q: Do the needles hurt?
A: Acupuncture needles used for acupuncture are almost as thin as a human hair. Often, when patients first feel the sensation of needles, their fears resolve. Each treatment session is tailored to meet the specific needs of each individual patient.
In addition to the acupuncture, patients may also be treated with moxibustion (an herbal tonifying and warming method), acupressure, and cupping. Patients are given suggestions for self-care between appointments.
Q: What is acupressure?
A: Acupressure consists of pressing specific acupuncture points to promote the free flow of qi energy in the channel. Acupressure is similar to acupuncture, but the practitioner uses their fingers instead of needles to work the channels (meridians) and points.
Q: What is moxibustion?
A: Moxibustion is the burning on the skin of the herb moxa. Moxibustion does not now involve scarring, but moxa is still used to provide local heat over acupuncture points. It is made from the dried leaves of Artemisia vulgaris and the Chinese believe that the older the moxa, the better its therapeutic properties.
Q: What is cupping?
A: Cupping is a therapy in which a jar or plastic cup is attached to the skin surface to cause local congestion through the negative pressure (like a vacuum). It is used to bring qi and blood to heal local areas of pain or used over specific acupoints. Oil may be used for 'slide cupping,' which feels much like deep tissue massage.
Q: How is Oriental medicine compatible with Western medicine?
A: Both Western and Oriental Medicine have their respective strengths and weaknesses, that is why in modern China, the two systems are used together. Western medicine typically treats symptoms, where many times there is no actual cure, therefore, necessitating continued need for medications; whereas, Oriental medicine picks up organ system weaknesses and imbalances long before symptoms develop - which results in improved ability to resolve symptoms and cure illnesses. Oriental medicine greatly compliments the benefits of western medicine.
In addition, Oriental medicine can often reduce unpleasant side effects associated with prescription medicines. Licensed acupuncturists are also trained to recognize symptoms that may indicate the need for a referral to a medical doctor or specialist.
Q: What conditions can acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine treat?
A: The World Health Organization has determined that acupuncture is an effective therapy for over 200 clinical conditions. These include the following conditions:
- Back pain
- Circulatory disorders
- Digestive problems
- Gynecological disorders
- Menopausal symptoms (hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings)
- Migraines and headaches
- Neck and shoulder pain
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Tobacco, alcohol and food addictions
- Side effects associated with cancer treatments/ cancer pain
- Weakened immune system
Q: How does acupuncture treat the 'whole person'?
A: Most patients come for one or two concerns; however, when done correctly, acupuncture benefits and treats the whole person. In western medicine, patients are given prescribed treatments for symptoms, and each organ system is treated separately, whereas in eastern medicine (TCM), symptoms are believed to be a 'branch' to an underlying 'root' problem that has been there long before the symptoms have surfaced.
When diagnosing and treating with TCM/acupuncture, all signs and symptoms a patient has is viewed as a whole picture (and not separated) in order to formulate a good treatment plan to result in the best possible outcome. This can only result in overall improved health and well being. Patients typically notice calmness, increased energy, improved sleep, digestion and less anxiety. Frequently patients ask, 'What’s in the needle?' The answer is nothing. Your own body has amazing ability to heal itself. Acupuncture aids the body in healing from the inside out.
Q: How many treatments are necessary?
A: An old saying among Chinese doctors is 'a month of treatment for every year of suffering.' Of course, this is a generalization, however, chronic conditions usually require a longer course of treatment than more 'acute' or short-term conditions.
Most patients experience notable changes in only one treatment; however, depending on the severity of his or her condition, improvement of symptoms may take several or more treatments. After three or four treatments, a good practitioner may be able to advise the patient what additional treatments may be necessary.
Many patients choose to come in regularly for maintenance, perhaps once a month, in order to maintain optimum health and well being. Others come for a couple of visits at the beginning of allergy season, while others choose to come in for stress management when needed.
Q: What is electro-acupuncture?
A: For some cases of localized pain, two needles are attached with a mild micro current stimulator, similar to electric stimulation used in physical therapy. The intensity is just strong enough for the patient to barely feel.
Q: Will my insurance pay for acupuncture?
A: If you are seeking acupuncture for relief from injury due to an automobile accident, all of your fees are usually covered by No Fault insurance. Please call your insurance carrier to determine whether you have acupuncture benefits, as more and more insurance companies are now covering at least 80% if not more.
Q: Is acupuncture safe during pregnancy?
A: Yes. Acupuncture is used to alleviate many typical pregnancy-related complaints, including morning sickness, carpal tunnel, back pain, and sciatica. However, during each stage of pregnancy, there are certain points that should be used and others that should be avoided. Following these guidelines ensures safety of both the mother and the fetus.
It may be used quite effectively before childbirth to minimize any risk of post-partum depression, thereby avoiding any unwanted medications which may be contraindicated when breastfeeding.
Q: Do I have to believe in acupuncture for it to work?
A: No. Although the placebo effect often plays a role in any treatment, acupuncture works for most people who may or may not believe. University studies have shown MRI with pet scanning of the brain to enhance during treatment of pain relief; Harvard University is one of the universities involved in acupuncture research. There are many studies proving acupuncture works on animals, which obviously cannot experience the 'placebo effect.'
Q: How soon will I be better?
A: To provide you with realistic expectations, many factors affecting your recovery time must be taken into consideration, including:
- acute vs. chronic pain
- first episode or recurrent problem
- general health
- general fitness level (includes strength, flexibility and cardiovascular health)
- lifestyle (work, diet, sleep)
- patient comprehension and compliance with recommendations
- consistency with treatments
- stress (physical/mental/chemical)
- family history
Everyone responds differently when being treated. Some patients recover very quickly after one or several treatments and some take longer (usually less than 10 visits). For chronic conditions and underlying health problems, it is best to come for maintenance after your treatment course about once a month.
Please feel free to call Madeline Martinez, L.Ac., PA-C at (631) 260-1212 with any other questions or concerns.